The issue of healthcare is at the forefront of political debate as we grind towards the fall election in the United States. At the recent convention I attended, the American Telemedicine Association, I realized that I was defining the problem too simplistically: affordability is only the tip of the iceberg.
In his keynote address, Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of the Digital Health Group at Intel Corporation (yes, Intel is providing technology solutions to healthcare), gave full illumination to the healthcare crisis in the US (and effectively the entire world).
True, affordable healthcare is a concern, as is access to quality care. However, more alarming is a chronic worldwide shortage of doctors and nurses. Plus, that will be exacerbated as medical practitioners retire faster than their replacements are being trained. To make the situation even more critical is the fact that as the baby-boom generation ages, their need for medical services will increase.
So we will be faced with fewer people being asked to provide more services to an ever-growing population. (Basic economic supply and demand theory suggests that will push prices even higher.)
Fortunately, there is an emerging plan. With medical technological advances (both present and future) it is becoming more likely that we will be spending less time in hospitals and long-term care facilities (where recovery times are longer and patient morale is lower) in lieu of staying at home (where recovery times are quicker and patient morale is higher). This will be viable through some amazing and futuristic remote monitoring technologies that will allow medical practitioners to effectively and efficiently monitor and treat patients from afar.
So despite concerns over the future of healthcare, it is comforting to know that exciting solutions are emerging — and better yet, it doesn’t require government action to make it work!